Saturday, 16 June 2018

Secret Deals in Dirty Back Rooms

Our Lords and Masters

When it comes to killing off New Zealand's oil and gas industry, Prime Minister Ardern has no high ground.  It was a secret decision without consultation.  It was the product of ideological closed minds, cemented in cant.  It was the outcome of a cabal--all extremists, all wanting to prove a point, all filled with self-righteous certainty, all ignorant.
For all the power held by bureaucrats to frustrate decision-making with inconvenient advice or warnings of unintended consequences, sometimes a very small group of people simply decide something will happen, and that is that.

So it turns out to be the case with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's decision to end new offshore oil exploration in New Zealand.   Since Ardern led a group of Cabinet colleagues into the Beehive theatrette to announce the move on April 12, there has been mounting speculation about just how little detailed analysis was undertaken behind the move.  It had already become clear that key agencies (Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) had provided no advice.

Officials at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment had been openly grumbling to the industry that they were being side-lined.  National leader Simon Bridges said he had been told by officials that they were explicitly being asked not to provide advice on the decision (something the Government denies).  But only on Tuesday did New Zealand learn that whatever advice was provided, it ultimately meant nothing.  [Hamish Rutherford, Stuff]
It was a fact-free decision.  Taken in secret.  The balance of data points to greater environmental degradation (if that is what presses your buttons) as a result of not taking oil and gas supplies off the coast of Taranaki, in New Zealand's territorial waters.  Far better to import gas, albeit the embarrassing fact that it does not burn as cleanly as our own, thus further degrading the environment.  Albeit, also, the greater cost of imported oil and gas, to say nothing of the higher environmental degradation as a result of having to ship it to the far off Antipodes.

The dirty-back-room dealers included Ardern herself, Megan Woods (Minister of Energy and Resources), and greenist James Shaw.  There will be other hangers-on, no doubt.

But this is not how Government should be done.  To be clear, while there are many people who remain sceptical, the balance of opinion in New Zealand, including corporate opinion, is that climate change is real and has to be addressed.  The sooner we get on the road to a cleaner economy, the easier the path will be.

In that way, even reasonable opponents of the prime minister's move may respect that this administration and future ones will be forced to make difficult choices.  But process matters and this is a major decision, which could impact New Zealand's energy security in years to come.
What a travesty that such a benign, valuable industry has been killed stone dead by ideological ratbags.  There will be downstream industries and their owners and employees who will be hit hard.  The economic cost to Taranaki will be enormous.

Ardern and the Greens have taken the first steps towards a Luddite future in New Zealand.  They have and will be guilty of doing us all great damage.  We expect that net migration with Australia will turn sharply in Australia's favour as a result.

Let's hope every voter in the Taranaki region punishes our arrogant Masters the next time the ballot boxes are rolled out, and for next ten elections thereafter.  They deserve it.

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